NEWS

Six arrests at soccer fan clubs

Six people were arrested and charges were filed against another two after raids by police yesterday on four soccer supporters’ clubs in Athens that led to the seizure of a substantial cache of firebombs, flares, batons, knives and an array of other objects that could be used in attacks on other fans or officers. The shocking discoveries were made after police raided a Panionios supporters’ club in Nea Smyrni, an AEK club in Aghioi Anargyroi, an Olympiakos club in Ilioupoli and a Panathinaikos club in nearby Aghios Dimitrios. At the Panionios club, which is housed with the club’s consent in its Nea Smyrni Stadium, officers found Molotov cocktails and other objects. During their raid at the AEK club, they discovered six incendiary devices, flare pistols, hockey sticks, baseball bats, metal rods and sledgehammers. The raid on the Olympiakos club in the eastern suburb of Ilioupoli led to the seizure of 13 batons and a knife with a 28-centimeter blade. No incriminating evidence was found at the nearby Panathinaikos club, although there has been a longstanding rivalry between Greens and Reds fans in the area which has led to attacks on each other’s clubs. The police arrested six people aged between 21 and 32 and have charged another two. Sources told Kathimerini that none of the eight has a criminal record or was known to the police prior to yesterday’s raids. There was also no evidence linking them to other criminal activities or extreme left- or right-wing organizations. Sources added that none of the fan clubs had been operating legally but had all been receiving match tickets for their team’s games from the administration of the soccer clubs. Police are now investigating links between soccer club officials and the supporters. There had been an effort to outlaw hardcore supporter clubs in 2008 following the murder of a Panathinaikos fan a year earlier during clashes with rival Olympiakos supporters on the outskirts of Athens.